It takes a lot for a college student to wake up before 5 a.m., but this past Tuesday, 66 Hampton Roads-area students were already working at local Election Day polling stations by that time.
As a part of the Tidewater Roots Polling Project, these college students were trained to work at local polling locations during the 2010 midterm elections. Students from the College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth, Norfolk State, Old Dominion, Christopher Newport and Regent universities were recruited for the day, although Virginia state law mandates that workers be citizens of the state.
The students performed basic tasks at the polling centers, including greeting voters, handing out stickers and helping experienced poll workers. For their efforts, students received state pay as a poll worker, as well as a stipend from TRPP.
“There is a need for younger poll workers to be involved, especially with the changing of technology,” Andrew Bruskin J.D. ’12, TCPP project recruiter, said. “A 20-year-old student is much more comfortable working a computer than an older, more experienced poll worker.”
Although the program fell short of its 240-student goal, attracting only 66 student volunteers, Bruskin said that the project would continue next year.
“We expect that next year, we will have more student volunteers,” he said.
The TRPP was the idea of the William and Mary Election Law Students organization and law professor Rebecca Hulse. The project’s written intention is to “inspire a new generation of college students to learn from long serving poll volunteers to make a commitment to civic duty and participatory democracy.”
To fund the project, the William and Mary Election Law Society received a $63,700 grant from the Elections Assistance Committee in conjunction with the Help America Vote College Program.
“Hopefully this year we set an example for other college students to participate,” Bruskin said.